Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Edward Lear & Ogden Nash

This UK newspaper portrays 19th century author Edward Lear as Britain's equivalent of Ogden Nash. His hilarious, abstract and looney verse was unquestionably ground-breaking stuff for victorian England. Nash and Lear's work were recently grouped together in a "Great Eccentrics" a comic recital starring Dame Judi Densch. Sounds like a wonderfully entertaining show.

Here is an example of Lear's written and sketch work, that according to the author of this Lear site, may have been a progenitor of our phrase " snail mail"

The inscription on the snail's shell reads:

Feb. 19. 1864

Dear Baring

Please give the encloged noat to Sir Henry - (which I had just written:-& say that I shall have great pleasure in coming on Sunday. I have sent your 2 vols of Hood to Wade Brown. Many thanks for lending them to me - which they have delighted me eggstreamly Yours sincerely

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pre-Olympic Update: Ogden Nash Loved Sports

Nash professes in the following poem that he was a born spectator. However, he was also someone who loved to play. Ogden Nash was known to relish playing football and ice hockey while in school.

I recently discovered this athletic verse, thanks to Amitabh of Pune, India. Having memorized Casey at the Bat when I was in 6th grade, I was delighted to encounter another poem about sports. (The archive of sports poems is as thick as our president's library.) This is also an example of a Nash subject matter, so germane to most people, yet largely ignored by other poets.


One infant grows up and becomes a jockey
Another plays basketball or hockey

This one the prize ring hates to enter
That one becomes a tackle or center...

(Read the whole poem here)

...When swollen eye meets gnarled first
When snaps the knee, and cracks the wrist

When officialdom demands
Is there a doctor in the stands?

My soul in true thanksgiving speaks
For this modest of physiques

"Athletes, I'll drink to you,
Or eat with you
Or anything except compete with you

Buy tickets worth their radium
To watch you gamble in the stadium

And reassure myself anew
That you are not me and I'm not you

And thanks to the Sidney, Montana Sidney Herald for reminding us of Nash's:


A is for Alex

The great Alexander;

More goose eggs he pitched

Than a popular gander.

B is for Bresnahan

Back of the plate;

The Cubs were his love,

And McGraw was his hate.

C is for Cobb,

Who grew spikes and not corn,

And made all the basemen

Wish they weren’t born.

D is for Dean.

The grammatical Diz.

When they asked, Who’s the Tops?

Said correctly, I is.

E is for Evers,

His jaw in advance;

Never afraid

To Tinker with Chance.

F is for Fordham

And Frankie and Frisch;

I wish he were back

With the Giants, I wish.

G is for Gehrig,

The Pride of the Stadium;

His record pure gold,

His courage, pure radium.

H is for Hornsby;

When pitching to Rog,

The pitcher would pitch,

Then the pitcher would dodge....Read the rest here

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rediscovering Ogden Nash

I was introduced to Nash during the summer of 1972 I was at hockey camp at St. Georges School, Middletown, RI, where the versifier had been both a student and teacher.

Returning to Middletown two decades later, a book store owner recommended 'Loving Letters from Ogden Nash' which I devoured in a few days on the beach. I strongly recommend this wonderful book about Nash's remarkable relationship with his family. Douglas Parker's "The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light Verse", is also a MUST read for any Nash fan.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Digital Versifications

The words created in this guide are very much in the style and spirit of Nash's original poetic modifications:

Yellular - The loudness one adopts in response to a bad cell-phone connection.

Restaur-romp - last night's make-out session at the bar (Possibly the next step after 'Liquor is Quicker' )

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ogden Nash on Literary Rights

Expand the image

In 1966 a man named George Hill wrote the New York Times in opposition of extending the copyright bill 50 years past the death of an author.

The published letter so riled Ogden Nash that he drafted a reply entitled “Protection for Writers” that appeared on on September 26, 1966. The Nash's were no strangers to the editorial page with Nash's father having numerous of his letters published in the Times. The core argument of Nash's letter is that his work is his legacy, and should provide support for his children and grandchildren. Nash's expert use of humor to express his serious and pragmatic concerns is in full force. Like all his work, it was crafted with pencil, not MS Word. The verbatim cover letter and draft:

“Thank you for the letter from The Times. I enclose the rough draft of a reply which I have today mailed to the editor. I hope it finds its way into print. Yours Ogden Nash.

“It is obvious that Mr. George P. Hill…is neither a writer or a composer. It is equally obvious that he is a generous man, but with whose property is he being generous? My own position is far from unique. I share it with many friends in the fields of music and literature. For thirty-seven years I have made my living my arranging words in a way that has attracted a certain number of readers. At the end of thirty-seven years I own no stocks, no bonds, and am dependent on magazine sales, royalties and reprint rights. I have two children and five grandchildren to whom I am devoted. All I can leave them is my copyrights, which represent the harvest of 37 years of creative labor. Their value may not be great, but a fair number of my verses have crept into school text books and should provide at least a trickle of income for some time after my death. This Mr. Hill proposes to confiscate for the benefit of an amorphous public. No thank you. And if I were Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot or Aaron Copland I should still say, No thank you. Mr. Hill fears that the hypothetical witless and consciousless heirs of an author or composer would lose, destroy, suppress, scatter or sell to the white slave trade the folios of priceless manuscripts. To whom would Mr. Hill assign the disposition of these relics? A government agency? A private foundation? An Academic Anglais or Americaine? Again, no thank you. It takes a superior piece of moon-calfery to provoke a croak of protest from this small frog in the literary pond, but Mr. Hill has done the trick.”

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